If Social Security does not have enough information to find you disabled, you may be asked to submit to a consultative examination. A consultative evaluation is defined as “a physical or mental examination or test purchased for you at our request and expense from a treating source or another medical source, including a pediatrician when appropriate.” 20 C.F.R. 404.1519. Although Social Security states it will request that your doctor perform the evaluation, that never happens in the real world.
The examination is usually performed by a doctor or psychologist who has performed hundred of examinations for Social Security. These examinations are extremely important because the Administrative Law Judge will probably grant great weight to the examiner’s opinion.
There are certain things the disabled individual can do to make sure the consultative examination process goes smoothly:
1. Arrive on time: The examiner usually has numerous exams scheduled one after the other, which makes it extremely difficult to squeeze you in if you are late. If the examiner notes that you did not show, Social Security can decide the case on the evidence it already has, which usually results in an Unfavorable Decision. Notify Social Security immediately if you will not be able to attend the scheduled examination.
2. Cooperate with the examiner: If your disabling condition is your lower back and you have been sent for an orthopedic examination it is likely that the examiner will perform range of motion testing. Do what the examiner asks. Ask for clarification if you do not understand what is being asked. If the examiner believes you are purposely not doing what is asked it will be noted in the report, which hurts your case.
3. Be honest with the examiner: If the examiner asks if you drink alcohol or have done illegal drugs, tell them the truth. Usually, the examiner has copies of your medical records and can tell if you are being honest. If you lose the examiner’s trust, the remainder of the examination will probably not be in your favor.
An attorney can help with the consultative examination process. Once the report is issued, an attorney can review the report and decide whether to ask the Administrative Law Judge to have the report clarified, have a new examination ordered, or even have the report not be part of your claims file. An objection to a consultative exam report is usually made when 1. the examiner did not have your medical records before a report was filed, or 2. the examiner did not act professionally.